Clinton Global Initiative Conference Inspire URF team to Change Lives through Arts and Crafts

President Clinton holding URF brochure

Benjamin Kaster, Elizabeth Genzler, and John Mary were invited to represent URF at the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference at University of Miami between April 16 – 18th, 2010. It was an amazing experience meeting hundreds of young people passionate about making a difference in the world. Our CGIU commitment was to establish an Arts and Crafts Center at Hope Academy to provide orphan kids, students, and women in the community with practical and life skills in art, music, dance, theater, painting, and crafts. The goal is to empower them with skills that will enable these children and women to become independent.

We got to meet President Clinton and gave him a URF brochure – you can see him here holding it. We also made some great contacts for potential partnerships. URF was also given a booth to display our information. We handed out brochures and showed the recent documentary on Child-headed families filmed by students at College of Saint Benedicts and Saint John’s University in Minnesota. The last day involved a service project at a homeless shelter outside of Miami.

Below is a write up about the CGIU meeting I pulled from the Clinton Foundation website:

“More than 1,000 students, university presidents, and heads of national youth organizations joined President Bill Clinton April 16 to 18 at the University of Miami at the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Meeting. A weekend of panel discussions, working sessions, and skill-building workshops helped each participant formulate a Commitment to Action: a project that will achieve measurable results in solving urgent challenges on campuses and around the world.

Elizabeth, Ben, John Mary

At the closing session, on April 17, President Clinton announced that as a result of the 2010 CGI U Meeting, more than 1,000 new commitments were made that will positively affect more than 290,000 people worldwide. Commitments made by universities and national youth organizations are estimated to be worth $42 million.

“Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) members have shown that a few people can make a tremendous difference in the world,” President Clinton said. “Whether they are distributing microloans, building community gardens, or teaching children about nutrition, the students here are dedicated to expanding opportunity for others. I hope that, when they return home, they will inspire others to follow their examples.”

As in past years, when meetings were held at Tulane and The University of Texas at Austin, commitments focused on a range of issues impacting public health, poverty, climate change, education, and human rights. At this year’s meeting, CGI U helped focus students’ efforts by offering panel discussions featuring renowned experts on topics such as closing the graduation gap, combating human trafficking, building sustainable communities, understanding the future of water, and helping Haiti.

CGIU Class of 2010

As a result, CGI U participants made commitments that will allow:

  • More than 230,000 students and faculty to engage in awareness raising initiatives, which range from empowering students to fight cancer to helping students to green their own campuses and communities
  • 120,000 people with disabilities to have better access to health care
  • An estimated 7,000 students will be engaged as advocates to support 185,000 women survivors of war
  • 75,000 students to benefit from a better education thanks to an unprecedented number of concurrent school reform initiatives in Detroit
  • 2,000 families in Haiti to have emergency housing thanks to the efforts of university students in the Dominican Republic and Haiti

To close the weekend with a day service to the Miami community, President Clinton and Alonzo Mourning, founder of Alonzo Mourning Charities, led the students in a project at the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust’s homestead homeless complex, a community of approximately 500 formerly homeless individuals and families.”  taken from

Service project at Homeless shelter


A webcast of sessions from the 2010 CGI U Meeting is available at

John Mary with President Clinton